Katrin Piile “In Search of Idyll”
In the practice of searching, I imagine a set of eyes. Moving back and forth, left to right, they scan their surroundings. Another approach might be to lift something, or move objects around the room. Seldomly one smells (unless a hint was given that the object of search is food related), weighs or rubs. Our most reliable partner, the one we turn to at first, is still that pair of eyes.
One search that is engraved in our cultural history was written by Marcel Proust. For several decades, the Frenchman attempted to trace a time that had passed. His fragment about the madeleine is highly referenced material; the perfect quotidian example of involuntary memory, where the taste of the pastry brings him back to his childhood.
A la recherche du temps perdu (or, In Search of Lost Time) is most of all a life’s work. However memorable the description of the madeleine was, the book’s relevance is more than just that. It is a highly accurate example of the character of searching, which often lacks a finish line. Katrin Piiles artistic practice is in a similar manner an intense dedication to a search that will probably never fully resolve. At Tütar gallery, the artist aims her search towards a moment of pause, a breath of air, of peace and stillness. This is intrinsically connected to the medium of painting, with its connotation to the still life or nature morte.
But nothing is completely still: every inanimate object contains action one way or another: it has a history, is sorted, exhibited and rediscovered. Piile’s exhibition features the active process of creation. Drops and buckets give us a glimpse of the artist’s working methods. I am most intrigued by the restlessness in Katrin Piile’s artistic nature. She seeks confrontation with the medium of photorealistic painting. During this heated, passionate discussion with her own process, the artist inserts imperfections in a hyperrealistic medium. Neatly square-shaped canvasses contain images of wrinkled paper, connected to a wall with various pieces of masking tape. This thorough investigation and self-reflection creates an urgency. It makes the work approachable as well as confident.
If eyes are our trustworthy companion, Piile employs these senses vividly. Through enlarging and depicting, she invites the viewer to join her and take a pause. Another notable technique is the practice of layering and copying. She takes a picture, paints, and paints that new picture once more, from a footstep further away, or a tiny bit to the left. This becomes a pathway of translations. In this exhibition, one finds paintings of wallpaper. This material is often a depiction on its own already (leaves, roses or other patterns), but one that is often rather clumsy and mass produced. I would like to call her method paraphrasing, as nothing is identical. What happens in the space between these images? I find questions towards functional, domestic objects, their multitude of interpretations and the influence of the context on the subject.
In search of Idyll tastes like calmness with a hint of restless maneuvers. It shows us the relation between practice and exhibiting. Katrin Piile presents us with a break, a pause, a moment of rest. This moment is a result of a continuous, never ending (even refusing to!) circle of creation and dialog with a medium. And so she presents the exhibition as a still life.
Laura De Jaeger, May 2023